A homespun, back garden wedding – all aboard the tractor!

2 Oct

As you all know by now, this little shabby chic wedding blog is only as good as the weddings it features! So I always get disproportionately excited when a really fab wedding pops up in my inbox.

This is Daniel and Lucy’s big day – and I’ll let Lucy tell you all about it!

“Daniel and I met in a little bar in Brighton – a typical “my friend fancied his friend” situation. My friend was too shy to go over and speak to the guy she fancied so I went over and started a conversation with the group of people and got talking to Daniel. We hit it off straight away and started dating. Unfortunately my friend never actually got around to speaking to the guy she had initially fancied!”

“After dating for 6 months we moved in together, and then after about 2 years Daniel proposed. It was a bit of a surprise as Daniel is well known for being very disorganised. I had an interview in London, and Daniel suggested that he come with me and take me out for lunch afterwards. We met up at Green Park tube station and he suggested we take a walk, and then walked me into The Wolseley. I had never been to The Wolseley and was immediately taken by the beautiful decor and understated elegance. It turns out Daniel had bought an engagement ring and smuggled it up to London without me knowing and had booked a table with champagne was waiting for us. He got down on one knee in the middle of the restuarant and asked me to marry him whilst crying and shaking uncontrollably – although he maintains that he was calm and collected! I was absolutely surprised and delighted and said yes straight away.”

“I then found out that a few minutes before I had met up with Daniel, he had been mugged at the cashpoint. He had gone to get some money out for lunch and someone stole his card as it came out of the cashpoint. Luckily a rather large rugby sized man stood behind Daniel in the queue ran after the mugger and retrieved Daniel’s card so he could actually pay for lunch.”

“We planned the wedding for about a year, and from the beginning we knew we would like to get married in our local church in Albourne, Sussex. It is a 15 minute walk from our house down a little lane – it is the only building down the end of the lane apart from the rectory and it is surrounded by fields. I think they only have a handful of weddings a year which made it even more special. We also wanted the reception in our garden as we wanted to keep everything very personal to Daniel, me and our guests.”

“The theme was country garden, so we had a selection of picnic tables covered in floral table clothes, vintage mix match crockery and glasses and country garden flowers from a local grower. The tables centres were vintage jugs or teapots filled with small posies. and alongside these we had wicker baskets filled with a bottle of red wine, homemade chutney and homemade apple sauce. It was important that the food was really good as all our friends are foodies so we had a hog roast and then a wonderful buffet that we did ourselves with the help of our friends. It included whole baked salmons, spinach feta and pinenut filo pastry tarts, french green bean salad, summer vegetable and herb cous cous, homemade coleslaw, herby potato salad. All the food was bought from the local greengrocer or grown in our garden and the wine came from our independent wine shop in the village. My sister made a beautiful cake using eggs from our chickens. It was 3 tiers – carrot, beetroot and then a banana cake covered in cream cheese icing and a mix of berries. After supper a local band played music and everyone talked, drank and danced in the garden until the small hours with fairy lights and lanterns lighting the garden.”

“We had so much help from so many people – Daniel’s mum made vintage style table cloths from old floral curtains, she hand embroidered napkins with our initials, our neighbour lent us his vintage tractor and trailer so people had the option of walking down to the church or getting lift. The local farmer cleared the field of cows so we could turn the tractor around as the lane is so narrow, another neighbour’s dad did our hog roast as the planned person pulled out at the last minute, a jeweler friend made our rings….the list really does go on and on. We had so much help that we had a nickname for our neighbours “the Albourne Elves” – as when anything was needed or we asked for help it magically appeared.”

“My favourite part of the day was walking into our garden with my new husband, the sunshine appearing from behind some rather worrying dark clouds and seeing everyone in our garden enjoying the day, drinking champagne and listening to music. My second favourite part was watching Daniel run around the garden in his wedding suit trying to catch our chicken Muriel who had managed to escape her pen!”
“A few tips for future brides would be to try to be a little flexible when organising your wedding – the most stressful points are where you have a set idea and then for some reason you can’t have X flowers, or X venue or X tealight holders. Give yourself some options and keep an open mind – no matter what happens you will have an amazing day and those little details don’t always feel quite as important on the day as you thought they would as you are too busy enjoying yourself.”
“A second really important thing I now tell anyone I know who is getting married is to try to stand back for a few minutes, relax and really appreciate your day and your new husband. The day is so busy, and so many people want to speak to you and the build up has probably been so intense that the day can rush by and suddenly you find yourself saying your goodbyes and heading off to your honeymoon. Take 10 mins with your new husband away from your guests and photographer – maybe get the car to pull over at a pre-arranged place between the church and venue so you can sit there and let it all sink in – or after dinner agree to sneak away with your husband to have a glass of champagne just the two of you. I was really lucky to have a friend who just took me to one side and said “breathe” you have done an amazing job organising the day – now ENJOY it!”
Lucy has since started Mayflower Events! Her website is coming soon and I can’t wait to see the results of her planning adventures 🙂
Dress by Monsoon
 Wine supplied by Lucy at South Down Cellars


30 Sep

I’ve reached 1000 followers on Twitter. Which means I get to announce the details of my first ever COMPETITION! I’m so excited I can barely contain myself, because my incredible mother and her business partner have donated the most awesome prize imaginable.

Lorraine and Morag have over 25 years of complementary therapy experience between them. Together, they form L&M Pampering Parties – the ultimate girlie night in. With a mixture of facials, aromatherapy, reflexology, indian head massage, reiki and a touch of luxury, L&M brings the pampering experience to your home.

SO the prize! One lucky winner will receive a pampering party for up to six people in their own home. They can choose from a menu of delicious, relaxing treatments and will be spoiled with bubbly and a girlie DVD to match the treatments they’ve chosen. Whether it’s your hen party coming up, your birthday or you just feel like relaxing, this prize will make for one lucky winner!

The runner up will receive a 30ml bottle of Lorraine’s popular signature perfume “Seduction”.

All you have to do is fill in the form below telling me why YOU deserve to be pampered. The best entry will be chosen by Lorraine and Morag (and will be posted here). The competition closes on Wednesday, 5th October 2011 and the winner will be announced shortly after! Prize valid for six months from today. Your details will only be used to get in touch if you’re a winner and will not be used for promotions, put on a database or passed on to any 3rd parties.

A make up photo shoot in the park

25 Sep

When the lovely Tammi Nguyen  asked for models for a make up shoot, I jumped at the chance to channel my inner Tyra. As a blogger, styling shoots and directing models is part and parcel, so getting in front of the camera to understand the process better was key! Here’s me looking more Zoolander than Tyra, but couldn’t let Tammi’s awesome hair and make up efforts go unacknowledged!

So here are a few shots from the day! All photos © Tammi Nguyen – hair and make up by Tammi Nguyen

just the make up, before hair & styling



fun behind the scenes with Tammi - Blue Steel!



and then the fiance showed up to collect me - and found himself an unwitting model!


Don’t Tell the Bride – Series 5, Episode 3 – Sarah Jane and Cameron

25 Sep

Welcome back to my weekly recap of Don’t Tell the Bride, where this week our lucky groom has to please not one, but two brides to be…!

The episode will be available for a little while longer on iPlayer, but if you’re busy (or just plain lazy) here’s my take on what happened.

*Disclaimer – this is an entertainment show. The narrator is mean, the editing is mean, and therefore I’m disproportionately mean. If you appeared on this show, please install your sense of humour chip before you read on… or just stop reading now 😉 

From the start, it’s clear we’re onto another winner with the groom. His heart seems to be in the right place as he proudly admits he’s wrapped round Sarah Jane’s little finger. Quite right too.

However, this time, the stars of episode three weren’t the bride and groom – but the two supporting acts – the world’s most encouraging and loving sister *cough*sarcasm*cough*, Katie, and bearded aspiring poet, best man, Jay.

Sister Katie is getting married later in the year – and has clearly lost all grip on reality. Clearly unaware that she’s coming across somewhat bitter and irrational, Katie spends most of the episode breathing fire, crushing buildings – and complaining about her pink gerberas. Within a couple of minutes of the show starting, Katie’s banned Cameron from planning a traditional church wedding and a country house reception… so… most weddings then…

Pausing for a little rant – I’d get this whole “it’s MY wedding – MIIIINE” thing, if Katie was doing anything remotely original. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a church wedding and a country house reception – but it IS what lots of people do… you can’t claim a monopoly on the format. It’s not like she’s marrying a goat up a mountain in a nudist ceremony or something…

Rant over.

Anyway, here comes best man, beardy Jay, while Sarah Jane inexplicably goes to stay with her sister – right that’s three weeks of subtle jibes and bitchy undertones to look forward to then.

Cameron decides on an Indian / Scottish theme. My first thought is that the colours are going to clash horribly. Jay fondles Cameron’s ear for some reason. Cameron asks him not to. Everyone is uncomfortable.

Moving on to choosing the venue, and I switch off my brain for a while as we go through the usual “she wants a church wedding and he’s oblivious process.” Tea, anyone?

Cameron books a very pretty castle. But, of course, he doesn’t think of any practicalities – the ceremony room only holds 50 guests at a push – something that’s obviously going to cause problems later on… Having decided on the ceremony venue, Jay and Cameron stop for some Mr Whippy ice cream in the park. Mulling over the decision, Jay informs Cameron “it’s your balls on the line, not mine!” He seems a little too excited about this.

For the reception, Cameron books a very expensive, but very appropriate (for his theme) Indian tent. Jay says something sensible: “you don’t have to make everyone happy.” I agree.

After deciding on a reception venue, Cameron marches straight to the florist – and buys £800 worth of Katie’s signature pink gerberas. In a messed up, sadistic way, I’m quite pleased.

Meanwhile, the bride to be is going wedding dress shopping. And, again, for some reason that’s beyond my comprehension, she’s brought along the jealous sister – who’s probably singed every dress in the shop with her fire breath! At least, every dress that remotely resembles her own.

Cameron and Jay are doing some dress shopping of their own. Another yawn fest as he goes in totally the wrong direction with a traditional A-line gown – when she’s after a big princess dress. Whoops.

In one of the cringiest scenes in Don’t Tell the Bride history, Cameron has to face up to his venue choice and tell his future mother in law she can only invite about fifteen people to the wedding. She’s not pleased. He’s not pleased that she’s not pleased. He draws a little cartoon of himself looking sad under a cloud. I forgive him. Mum breaks the news to Sarah Jane in front of the sister – is that a smirk I detect Katie? Hint, try to save looking really smug for when the camera’s off you.

After sending the girls paintballing for Sarah’s hen do, Cameron buys her a stripper. But only so he can justify getting his own stripper. I’m unimpressed.

They all go bridesmaids dress shopping. I get bored and sing to myself for a while.

Cut to Jay writing his best man speech. He apparently has a degree in English Literature specialising in “romantic writing”. Right. I already have ridiculously high expectations for this poem given that he’s ruled out the use of simile, metaphor or any other poetic device… because obviously the proles won’t understand it. Oh Jay. At this point, it’s fair to say I’m more than a little creeped out.

In my favourite part of the episode, the boys learn a street dance. I realise suddenly that Jay IS David Brent… I KNEW he looked (and sounded) familiar.

Annnyway Sarah sees her dress. She likes it. Even though it’s the opposite of what she likes. How predictable. But still, it’s nice to see her very happy. Aaaw. Even the sister musters some support. Some… but that’s a start.

The day arrives – Jay spends most of the morning stroking Cameron’s head… don’t pet him too hard there, Lenny! At the bride’s house, the pink gerberas arrive. Katie cries. It’s quite funny.

Sarah arrives at the venue by helicopter. Just be grateful you’re not jumping out of it, Sarah (remember John and Jackie from episode 1?) Anyway, she lands, she’s happy, he’s happy, everyone’s happy. Apart from Katie, who’s weeping into her pink gerberas. Just kidding.

Jay reads his poem. The good news is, he doesn’t have to worry about it being too highbrow. Seriously “My two best mates joined together, with a love so strong that lasts forever.” He then presents them with a macaroni picture and a pencil holder he made. Not really, he was all strung out from his literary efforts.

Long story short, she loves everything (even the marquee… kind of) and even the mother in law is pleased.

Catch the next episode of Don’t Tell the Bride on Tuesday 27th September at 9pm on BBC3

A stunning, shabby chic wedding – Elizabeth and Tomás

18 Sep

I love it when I get real wedding submissions that actually inspire me! This gorgeous US wedding took my breath away – and is the absolute pinnacle of what a DIY wedding can be! There are so many lovely ideas in here, but I’ll let Elizabeth tell you her story in her own words.

“The summer before my senior year of college, I went to Sevilla, Spain for a month to take a TESOL teaching course. The daughter of one of my mom’s coworkers had been studying there the previous semester, and this girl gave me the email address of a Spanish friend so that I could meet someone right away to practice Spanish with. That friend turned out to be my now husband! Tomás and I fell in love seriously in three days. We had a long distance relationship for the first year, seeing each other every three months in either Spain or Pennsylvania. After college, I moved to Spain for two years to teach and be with Tomás. Three and a half years after we met, Tomás proposed, and now we’re married!”

Elizabeth and Tomas opted for a shabby chic wedding theme

“A summer night in late July 2010, Tomás asked me to come outside–he had been outside all evening supposedly building a bonfire with my brother and he wanted me to see it. As soon as I got outside though, I saw that Tomás had actually been out there creating a beautifully romantic scene. He led me to my parents’ pool, where dozens of tiny candles were floating in the water. He told me we were going on a special walk, and let me to another part of the tard where I saw a pathway made by candles. Under each candle was a paper heart with a characteristic of our relationship written on it, like “respect”, “love for nature”, etc. After reading all the hearts, the candle path led us to the vegetable garden that we had built and been tending all summer. When we got to the garden, Tomás read me a poem he wrote comparing our growing love to the growing garden. Then he got down on his knee and proposed! My engagement ring was my great-grandmother’s ring that my grandmother gave me before she passed away several years before. My mom had been holding on to it until Tomás was ready to ask for it. It was such a lovely proposal!”

“I planned the wedding with lots of support from my mom and friends. I absolutely loved the way I decorated the tables. I spent our engagement year collecting glass bottles, vintage doilies, and lovebird figurines, and the way they all came together just looked so pretty and very shabby chic. It also meant a lot to me because I had put so much time and love into collecting these decorations.”

“As soon as we were engaged, I started combing wedding magazines and blogs and kept a notebook of photos I liked. It didn’t take long for me to realize that most of the pictures I was saving shared a soft, romantic, vintage style. Tomás and I both really love antiques and tend to like things that have a homey, lived-in style, so shabby chic was a perfect fit.”

If I were to give any advice to brides-to-be, it’s that making your wedding really about you and your future husband requires a lot of thought and planning, which takes a lot of time–especially if you want to DIY parts of it. But in my experience it was SO worth it, because on the day of the wedding, everything was just what I wanted, and it felt US.”

Why not hang pictures of yourselves together as decorations?

Wildflower seed favours will give your guests something permanent to remember your day!

Photos by Love Me Do, Dress by Eden Bridals 

Shabby Chic Bride invitations tutorial on Love My Dress

16 Sep

You may remember a while back I wrote this little post on how to make your own shabby chic wedding invitations.

Since then, the lovely Annabel from Love My Dress put out a request for real brides to send in their DIY tutorials – and I couldn’t resist sharing with a wider audience!

So I took some more photos and to my delight, here they are up on Love My Dress in all their glory – complete with instructions!

Here’s a little sneak peek… a small sample of the finished products! Once they’re all done I’ll somehow take a photo of all of them together.


Don’t Tell the Bride review – Series 5 Episode 2 – Josh and Stacie

15 Sep

What a difference a week makes! While last week’s Don’t Tell the Bride had me shaking my fist at the TV, and yelling at my own, poor, blameless hubby to be… just for being male… this week restored my faith in relationships!

Gloucester “rugby lad” Josh has to please his bride Stacie – who kicks off the show with the words “can we just remember it’s all about me?” Good luck, Josh.

Josh sets about choosing a venue – and from the start it’s clear he’s taking the process seriously. Good thing, Stacie isn’t very easy to please. She wants to get married “where lords and ladies used to live” – complete with a banner of… her own face! Oook… This is a bride who definitely knows what she wants. She wants canapes. She just doesn’t know what they are. No, seriously, she doesn’t know what canapes are… moving on…

Meanwhile Josh has found his dream venue. The only problem is it costs £22k… that seems somewhat excessive to me… but then what do I know? Hiring it for two hours costs less – but now he’ll have to face the inevitable disappointment of having the ceremony there and having to cart everyone off somewhere naff. Say, like a rugby club? Yup. But I’ll forgive him, because he means well.

When I first hear the words “Jamaican and Irish theme”, I have to be honest, I’m not holding my breath for anything amazing. After last week’s tinsel and fluorescent lights fiasco, I’m expecting nothing short of semi-offensive tack. But hold that thought, because Josh is about to go dress shopping.

Walking into the wedding dress shop, he announces: “we’re looking for a wedding dress.”

The usual Don’t Tell the Bride mayhem ensues – she hates sweetheart necklines. He goes for a sweetheart neckline. Some pantomime-style heckling ensues from my sofa. Hubby to be hands me a cupcake and I calm down.

After the painful dress shopping comes the hen night. He sends her to the bingo. But it’s OK, cause he’s just kidding! After the bingo comes the party. Basically, it’s everything I hate about hen parties, but she seems happy. And he didn’t go to a strip club and puke everywhere for his stag do – instant brownie points.

Anyway, this groom was very sweet throughout. He constantly thought of what his bride would want and he didn’t lose his cool – apart from when he had to pick eight bridesmaids dresses. But shopping with eight women would be enough to make any guy lose it right? There was a particularly sweet moment where he sent his bride to be a flower from each of their respective traditions.

The big day arrives – and the castle ceremony goes down a treat. However, it looks like a quickie divorce is on the cards when she gets out of the car to see the rugby club – complete with randomers having a drink at the bar. But lo and behold, Josh had the good sense to hire a venue dressing service! The poky rugby club was transformed into a veiled heaven – and even the Irish and Jamaican theme worked out! 

Join me next Tuesday at 9pm on BBC3 for more Don’t Tell the Bride action! In the meantime, leave me some comments! What did you think of Josh’s efforts? Let me know!